71 years after day of infamy, Pittsburgh schools plan no Pearl Harbor programs
Roscoe Mulvey carries with him a sense of the role he and other veterans played in World War II.
“To be called upon to protect the country,” said Mulvey, 89, a Harmony resident who was wounded on Aug. 25, 1944, in Troyes, France. “You didn't worry about being killed; we just did what we had to do.”
As World War II veterans and others pause on Friday to remember the day 71 years ago that catapulted a generation into war, some worry their stories are lost to generations of youngsters who don't know what happened.
Just before 8 a.m. Dec. 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, sinking or badly damaging 18 ships and destroying or damaging nearly 350 aircrafts. American deaths numbered 2,403, including 68 civilians. More than 1,100 military personnel and civilians were wounded.
No special programs will mark the day in Pittsburgh Public Schools, the state's second-largest school district, where students learn about Pearl Harbor in 11th-grade history classes, spokesperson Ebony Pugh said. Several other school districts also said they planned no programs.
“There's not as many of those guys left, not as many able to visit schools,” said Ron Conley, Allegheny County's director of Veterans Services. “It depends on the school. If they don't say the Pledge of Allegiance, why would they talk about Pearl Harbor?”
About 45,000 World War II veterans live in Allegheny County, many in personal care homes, he said.
Westmoreland County is home to 4,100 World War II veterans, according to Matt Zamosky, director of the the county's Veterans Affairs office.
Seneca Valley High School history teacher James Lucot taught students about Pearl Harbor on Thursday. Lucot, who visited Pearl Harbor this summer, supplements the textbook with what he has learned from talking to veterans.
“I've learned way more in one hour with those fellows than I have in books,” Lucot said.
Michael Peuler, a Vietnam War veteran from Cranberry, considers World War II veterans an extraordinary group.
“The average person can't understand how scared scared is. ... You react, you do your job, but when it's over, you can't imagine how you did it,” said Peuler, who attended a veterans breakfast this week on behalf of his father-in-law, Howard C. Dillaman, who fought in the Battle of the Bulge and was in the third wave at Normandy. He died last year at 91.
Complaints that younger generations don't recognize the sacrifices of older ones are not new, a military historian said.
“If we had a 150-year-old Civil War veteran alive today, he'd be saying the same thing about the Civil War,” said Doug Sterner, a Vietnam War veteran and military historian in Alexandria, Va. “The Pearl Harbor story is one that will never be lost to time.”
Many people dropped out of high school after the Pearl Harbor attack and signed up for military service. Once there, they continued to volunteer.
“When I flew 200 hours, I went back and volunteered for two more 25-hour increments,” said Thomas W. Shepard Jr., 92, of Cranberry, a former P-47 fighter pilot.
Today's attitudes are different, said Todd DePastino, executive director of the Veterans Breakfast Club, which brings vets together to share stories.
“Just one half of 1 percent of all eligible people serve,” DePastino said. “There is an increasing gap between people who served and those who did not.”
Craig Smith is a staff writerfor Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5646 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Foreign influx in Allegheny County at ‘tipping point’
- Steelers hope group of low-budget cornerbacks can deliver
- Elizabeth’s Riverfest is a family oriented event
- Pleasant Hills Night Out event marks 21 years
- Century Town Homes residents, Clairton officials frustrated
- Construction of $500M power plant in South Huntingdon stalled
- Steelers notebook: Ben believes rookie WR Bryant can contribute
- Steelers WR Wheaton wants to produce after injury-plagued rookie year
- McKeesport home invasion sends people to hospital
- Observers mixed on grid backup amid carbon rules, natural gas uncertainty
- Inside the ropes: Roethlisberger may have his big receiver